Video Games / Platform / Xbox360

Why You Shouldn’t Expect A Console Version Of Elder Scrolls Online…Or Want One

Why You Shouldn’t Expect A Console Version Of Elder Scrolls Online…Or Want One

The Elder Scrolls Online has been one of the oddest MMO’s to release in quite some time. From announcement to release, the development window was rather short, even more so given the apparent scope of the game. Given the promise of both a PC and PS4/Xbox One release, the short development cycle comes off as rather suspect. After a PC release, and a console delay, Elder Scrolls Online turned out to be a bit off a mess, a MMO failing on core mechanics. Elder Scrolls Online is limping along, failing to live up to the hype, or even stand side by side competition, is a console version even a viable option any more? While the Elder Scrolls Online has all the distinct Elder Scroll elements, the imagery, the lore, music, it’s MMO components often fall flat on it’s face. Group questing is a utter mess, a mess that leads to frustration more than fulfilment. The questing experience on the whole is simply nothing to write home about it. Keeping in the grounds of kill quests and fetch quests, with only some sub-standard voice acting in between, the bulk of the quests feel forced. It’s not that the quests are all that bad, it’s just they’re done better in other games, especially when they involve group interaction.   Elder Scrolls Online suffers, at least in its PvE, from truly finding it’s feet in a MMO environment. The core game feels like it’s built as a single player experience shuffling around trying to fit into the MMO genre. While the PvP is genuinely quite good , the PvE is just a inconsistent, often barren, experience. This is a issue that feels a little beyond a simple patch or two, it’s a issue at the heart of the game. Given the issues, the decreasing subs, a console version feels more like a hope rather than a expectations, and even so, is it worth hoping for? It’s hard to see a console version lighting the world on fire. The bland, eerily lifeless, nature of the game would still be there. Perhaps the console market, which doesn’t hold too much experience with MMOs, would be able to see past the quality life issues Elder Scrolls Online suffers from. The main stumbling block that console version would run into would be the subscription fee.   While people may be used to paying for their Xbox Live and PSN Plus, most struggle with the concept of paying full retail and then paying a sub on top of that. The subscription fee is just as much as issue for the PC version, people expect content, expanding content, that justifies monthly fees. Elder Scrolls Online is simply not providing the content to justify the asking price for the masses. It’s hard to envision what a console version would look, and play, like. Elder Scrolls Online isn’t visually impressive, there’s a shade of doubt that the visuals would be acceptable on the two newest consoles. A console version simply does not seem like a valid concept, and the silence around the console version suggests ZeniMax and Bethesda are all too well of that. The core game has far too many issues in its current state to truly sustain a working monthly subscription model. The expectation is Elder Scrolls Online will hit free-to-play within a year, a plan that has been adopted successfully by a number of companies when their MMO’s have ran into the subscriber/user issues. The most notable of these free-to-play adopters being EA/Bioware’s Star Wars: The Old Republic. After a initial period of success, The Old Republics subscribers plummeted, in reaction to this a free-to-play model was adopted, breathing life into the game and propping up the game for a sustainable future. The free-to-play mode, that also offers a premium monthly subscription option, is a perfectly serviceable option for most MMO’s that don’t command the huge or consistent user bases. Elder Scrolls Online has a issue with any potential plans to adopt a free-to-play model. If a console version is still in development, adapting a free-to-play model for the PC version will almost certainly render a console version with a retail price, plus subs, as utterly unserviceable. How could they possibly convince console users to buy, and pay monthly, for a game that is available as free-to-play on the PC. The future of Elder Scrolls Online is certainly unclear. A console version simply does not seem like a legitimate option any more and should no longer be expected. With nothing but words, no screenshots or gameplay, from Bethesda it’s a safe bet a console version of Elder Scrolls Online is dead in the water.    ...

Another Dead Island Game Announced – Is It One Too Many?

Another Dead Island Game Announced – Is It One Too Many?

Deep Silver’s faith in the Dead Island franchise continues to grow. Escape: Dead Island is a third-person ‘survival mystery’ that explores the origins of the zombie virus. Scheduled for release this autumn, Escape will land on PS3 and 360 for the retail price of £39.99. The PC version version will cost £34.99. ”ESCAPE Dead Island is a survival mystery that follows the story of Cliff Calo, who sets sail to document the unexplained events rumoured to have happened on Banoi. Arriving on the island of Narapela, part of the Banoi archipelago, he finds that not everything is as it seems. Haunted by Déjà vu, Cliff will have to make sense of it all throughout the entire game – again and again. This story-driven adventure lets players delve into the Dead Island universe and unravel the origins of the zombie outbreak. Escape is only the beginning… Delivering the key features of a Dead Island game – visceral melee combat set in a beautiful paradise setting – ESCAPE adds a completely new tone to the zombie universe. The visually unique styles accompanies the player on his struggle against insanity as he experiences the secrets of the Dead Island universe, fights off zombies with a vast and unique array of weapons and opens the path to the events that will happen in Dead Island 2. ”   While Escape does look interesting, there’s a slight sense of ‘not another Dead Island game’. Escape will be the 5th entry into a franchise that has never truly thrilled the masses. The first entry sold, and reviewed, fairly well, Riptide did not meet expectations in both regards. The Dead Island MOBA, Epidemic, is still a curious beast that doesn’t seem to be garnering that much attention. Dead Island 2 was some what of a surprise announcement. Given the short gaps between the first two games releases, it was expected that the franchise would be rested in terms of main entries. While the reaction to the Dead Island 2 trailer was positive, there’s still groans over yet another zombie game. The over saturation of Zombies in the media, especially video games, has left a lot of people jaded. With Dead Island, H1Z1 and Dying Light, the zombie sub genre is set to grow and grow. The over reliance on one franchise is a risky move for any company, only a few can afford to do such strategy (Konami). Deep Silver are putting a lot of faith in a franchise that, at best, is inconsistent. Fingers crossed quantity does prevail over quality....

Wolfenstein: The New Order Review (PS4/ Xbox One/ PC)

Wolfenstein: The New Order Review (PS4/ Xbox One/ PC)

There aren’t many first-person shooters that can raise a smile via gunning down waves of enemies, only to stop you in your tracks and make you question some pretty heavy topics. Dual wielding machine guns while unleashing hell one bullet at a time in one moment, mulling over racism and oppression the next. Wolfenstein: The New Order is far from what was expected. Franchise protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz is back, complete with a voice and high-definition chin, and once again he’s battling the Third Reich. The New Order opens with a brief mission set during, what should be, the end of World War 2, as B.J. and his team assault a Nazi compound. Right from the start, the tones and themes of New Order are laid out: robotic Nazi Dogs; Frankenstein-like super-soldiers; and giant mechanical units dominating the field. The opening mission acts as a tutorial as well as an introduction to the game’s antagonist, General Deathead, climaxing in a choice that impacts the rest of the game. The story then picks up some years later, in a world where the Nazis have gone on to global domination. The alternative timeline is the perfect place for traditional Wolfenstein enemy designs to make an appearance. There’s a number of times in which the enemy design is genuinely impressive due to their sheer twisted creativity. Their over-the-top nature feeds into the desired tone of the game. At least for the most part. The New Order doesn’t seem to want to take itself too seriously, but at times its nature comes into conflict with the more somber moments of the game. For example, a number of times a cutscene will focus on the horrors of war, while there’s also a short scene in which the topic of racism is touched upon. While these sections are well done and give the game a sense of soul , they come off a little out of place given how over-the-top the game is.     The action is relentless and outlandish, removing any sense of realism in favor for sheer balls-to-the-wall fun. There’s a sense of unbridled power when B.J. dual-wields assault rifles and creates a tidal wave of bullets and Nazi corpses. The core enjoyment of New Order is down to how well Machine Games has nailed the gameplay. There’s a strong sense of understanding and appreciation for classic first-person shooters. Running and gunning has never felt so good, each movement furled with a tight control scheme that lends well to the fast-paced action at hand. Wolfenstein: The New Order freshens up the gameplay by including a perk system that feeds into how the player plays the game. Perks will unlock once the player has met the criteria. For example, the stealth tree requires stealth kills and keeping a low profile to progress. The other trees mostly cover making things die at the hands of various weapons. It’s a simple system that gives the player short-term goals to improve their efficiency in the way they play, and it’s welcome and well rounded addition to the franchise.   Shockingly, there’s quite a lot of freedom when it comes to how a player can approach most situations. Each level often plays host to a number of paths for the player to take. Want to go in all guns blazing? There’s a path for that. Want to take it slow, steady, and adopt a stealthy approach? Heck, there’s often two paths for that. The choices aren’t simply there for show–the stealth is genuinely well done for a game that’s mostly about shooting literally everything in front of the player. In terms of production value, The New Order ranges from fantastic to questionable. Cutscenes are beautiful, with some characters coming to life thanks to fantastic detail and smooth animation. The visuals during gameplay tend to dip in and out of being decent to rough, however. Some textures can look slightly last-gen, especially on the weapons. It’s not that the game looks bad, it’s just that it struggles to truly make the impression that the game fully belongs on the new hardware from Sony and Microsoft. The game’s audio is adequate but has little to get excited or complain about.     The New Order does a lot well, but there are a number of issues littered around throughout that stop it from truly excelling. The 18 certificate given to the game seems like the result of some awkwardly forced-in scenes. Sex scenes and some random gore moments feel out of place and forced, even more so when they are sandwiched in between some heavy ethical topics. Also, the weapons on offer feel a little tame, which is disappointing given how creative the game is elsewhere. The main issues are mostly buried in the technical side of things. Enemy AI can go a bit off the wall and unresponsive to the actions around them. Enemies can find themselves trapped on scenery, as well the player. Boss battles are also thrown into The New Order, none of which feel engaging or even challenging, allowing some sections to feel a little underwhelming. Wolfenstein: The New Order is a solid experience. The action is solid, the experience is enjoyable, and by the end of the decent-length campaign, the player feels truly well traveled thanks to a fantastic range of environments. It’s a shame, then, that The New Order struggles to keep a balance between being over-the-top and serious. Fun, conflicted, sometimes even sad, The New Order is enjoyable but not essential, but is nevertheless a return to form for a somewhat forgotten franchise.      ...

Bound By Flame First Impressions

Bound By Flame First Impressions

Bound By Flame was never a game on my radar. It didn’t appeal to me and with the multitude of other games coming out this month; I can’t say I was chomping at the bits for this game to hit store shelves. This coupled with the iffy reviews it was getting made me a bit wary about putting out the cash for Spiders’ newest product. To put it simply though, Bound By Flame has left me pleasantly surprised in its opening hours. Going into this game I wasn’t expecting a AAA, big budget game. The title only costs 50 USD (40 for PS3, 360 and PC), so I wasn’t looking for a massive game. The first thing that greeted me after electing a new game was the character creation screen. A very simple formula, Bound By Flame gives the user the option of gender and about 6 face and hair options. I chose to go the female route as the face models seemed better. The game took me into a few cut scenes to set up the story and before I knew it, I was in combat. This where Bound By Flame has me hooked. You are given the choice of three fighting styles: heavy attacks (swards axes), quick attacks (daggers), or fire powers (spells). You can switch on the fly with a menu that slows the world around you down and depending on the enemy or situation; you can select the combat style that suits you. The combat system features your basic hack and slash moves, but incorporates an awesome parry and dodge system that gives this game a beautiful rhythm to it. Learning enemies’ patterns and working in your own attacks is what gives this game its charm and fun factor. I prefer the quick combat of the daggers as it allows you more movement in battle and I love the dodging feature. Another thing I like from the game is the art style. It may not be one hundred percent original, but it just works for this sort of game. Sometimes when I’m playing a game like this the art style won’t fit and it will pull me out of the experience. In Bound By Flame I believe the artists did a great job of making a believable world. My only complaint is a simple one; the dialogue can get a bit cheesy at times. This is one of the few areas that you can tell Spiders’ budget wasn’t huge. The voice actors, while adequate, sometimes cheese up their lines and over dramatized things. I’ve heard a few complain about the swearing, but honestly, it hasn’t put me off too much. Yes it does happen, but not enough to put you off. All in all, Bound By Flame is a solid game. I’m about three hours into it and I’m really enjoying my time. I hope that it will continue this upward trend as I’m just getting into the real story. The combat is fun, the game is challenging and those coupled with the price tag makes Bound By Flame a title that recommend someone looking for a fun RPG pick up....

Retrospective Review: The Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition (360)

Retrospective Review: The Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition (360)

With most peoples attention on the new generation of systems, it’s easy to forgot some of decent games available on the 360 and PS3. The Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition remains as one of the most overlooked titles on the 360. A fantastic port of the PC classic, The Witcher 2 is still worth picking up today, even more so with the Witcher 3′s delay into early 2014. But just how good is the 360 version of The Witcher 2?   The dark and brutal tale of The Witcher 2 had PC gamers stunned and in awe of what they had just experienced. The Witcher 2 was the definitive story driven role playing game of last year, now its time for The Witcher 2 to launch its assault on consoles. Does this fantasy tale of revenge mange to carry over to the home consoles, or is the quality lost in translation? The Witcher 2 sets the tone for its story telling nature from the off. Opening up with series protagonist Geralt being questioned over the murder of King of Temeria, King Foltest. From here Geralt begins his vigilante search for the true King Slayer. The land of Temeria is in chaos with various factions tying to take advantage of the death of the King. Geralt’s search is met with plenty of twists and turns with each outcome affecting the story line. The Witcher 2 is jam packed with decisions for the player to make, no matter how big or small every decision has a impact on the storyline. These decisions don’t just result in a extra bit of gold or loot, or even a new skill, they do in fact shape the overall story telling experience. This allows the storyline to twist and turn to the extent the player is left pondering their own actions.     It’s rare for video games to implement player decisions in such an effective manner. It never feels like you’re simply in a game world following a storyline, instead it feels like this game world bows to your choices and actions. It’s a true sense of role playing that is rarely achieved in video games. Examples of big decisions come early on in the shape of Geralt’s encounter with a traitor by the name of Aryan La Valette. Geralt can either strike him down in a duel or talk him into surrender. Talking Valette into surrendering effects the early stages of the game and adds a whole new cut scene in the process, as well as affecting Geralt’s reputation with the world’s factions. The range of consequences your decisions have can be felt within the first chapter of the game. There’s a number of different outcomes very early on with two totally differing climaxes, both of which feel as well worked as the other. The decisions can even propel your adventures to different towns during the second chapter of the game. While both towns share familiar maps and primary objectives , the NPCs (and thus conversations and personalities) and secondary quests are unique to their respective towns. This adds a genuine sense of choosing your own path within the world as well as giving the world a true feeling of being alive.   Interaction between Geralt and the supporting cast (as well as the NPC’s) never comes off as feeling trivial. Conversations flow naturally and engage the player regardless of the subject. This is both a testament to the high quality script and the voice acting. The over use of British (cockney for the most part) may boil the blood of some but they do serve purpose. Accents differ depending on location, much like real life, and how privileged the NPC/character is. It’s a nice touch that a lot of modern role playing games tend to forget about, and it adds a realistic layer to the world.   One issue that carries over from the PC original is the the over-abundance of ‘hidden lore’. While the game has plenty of back story for the player to look into, it’s easy to become a little confused as to some of the game’s lore. An example of this is that there is no obvious reason for everyone’s hatred of Nilfgaard. Characters and NPC’s will often curse the name of Nilfgaard but rarely do they give a clear reason why. Reasons can be found if the player takes time out to search through the mountains of lore to look up Nilfgaard. It’s not a huge issue but does catch players off guard. It’s a subjective issues if this is a case of too much of a good thing. The Witcher 2′s combat system has slightly been improved upon during its transition from PC to console. The core combat involves switching from sword type and spell type depending on the enemy and situation. Geralt is armed with one steel sword (used to slay humanoids) and one silver sword (used to slay creatures) along with several spells. The spells range from setting enemies alight to buffing Geralts defense temporarily and useful stun attacks. The controls are easy enough to adapt to with the X controlling your attacks (holding X results in a heavy strike, tapping X in a light, quick attack) and the triggers acting as your defensive skills and ‘focus’ move. Focusing on a target allows Geralt to counter enemy attacks (once the skill is unlocked) by a well timed button push while in defensive stance. Geralt can evade enemy strikes via simple push of the B button however spamming the move is a bad idea.     The stamina meter plays a large part in the games combat. Spamming the doge button is a huge drain on the stamina bar, this has a effect on Geralt’s ability to cause damage and parry enemy attacks. Other methods of combat can be found in the shape of taps, throwing daggers and bombs. These items offer a number of tactical routes in combat such as stunning enemies, and in some cases turning enemies against each other. On any difficulty setting, bar easy, players will find themselves struggling against early enemies Geralt encounters. This highlights the importance of drinking potions Geralt can create. Potions are created by combing various herbs found throughout the game. Combing potions is a key element to The Witcher 2′s gameplay, as each potion plays its part in establishing Geralt’s combat efficiency. Some potions increase damage done with swords, others increase stamina regain. The potion side of the game allows the player to approach combat in the way they prefer as well as adding a slight touch of strategy to proceedings. The combat has always been some what of a thorn in The Witcher’s side as a franchise but things have improved slightly in its debut on the Xbox 360. Improvements in the combat are partly due to a new upgraded interface specifically designed for the 360. This doesn’t mean its flawless however. Things can become quite messy when forced into a corner by a number of enemies, this creates a tricky situation of trying to attack one target at a time. The camera also comes into a play and can often blind side the player leading to a few cheap hits and in some cases death. At times the ‘invisible’ walls also rear their ugly head adding to issues the combat suffers (although this issue also applies to exploring too). While these issues aren’t game breaking by any means they are never the less frustrating.     The presentation of The Witcher 2 is to a high standard. Environments are well detailed, there’s a obvious attention to detail in each location Geralt finds himself in. The Witcher 2 has a decent range of locations to venture through, from inner city streets to grimey towns by the sea, the game never falls below a high standard of visual quality. The way in which the environments are lit play a key part in their beauty. Lights reflect and bounce in a natural manner, which adds extra detail to the world. Some sections mange to look so fantastic that you cant help but just stand back and take in the sites.   Character models and animation are a key attribute to the success of The Witcher 2′s storytelling. Characters look fantastic due to a number of reasons. The majority of models have at least one unique feature to them, be it a scar or a spot. This adds that sense of humanity that is necessary for a video game character to be believable. The NPC’s rarely look alike, resulting in the world feeling that little bit more natural. The core cast of characters play host to the greatest detail, for obvious reasons. Their eyes glaze and move in such a manner you almost forget they are simply a video game character. Facial animation is smooth and never comes off as synthetic or unnatural. This attention to detail aids conversations between characters, helping them to become engrossing and natural. Audio wise, The Witcher 2 is a treat and the musical scores are a vital part to the drama on offer. From booming music, which evokes a feeling of combat and tension, to soft pieces that bring a sense of calm, The Witcher 2 has it all. Sound effects are crisp on the ear and particular kudos go to the work on the creature sounds which avoid coming across as generic. Voice acting is one of the many highlights of the experience, from the smooth tone of Geralt to the arrogant almost pretentious voices of his enemies , The Witcher 2 never lets up. A strong script requires strong voice acting and thankfully The Witcher 2 is a prime example of this. There are only a few examples (mostly minor quest givers) of what could be considered flat voice acting, beyond that however there is only quality. The main issue the Witcher 2 suffers from, is its the somewhat abrupt ending. The first two chapters are nothing short of epic. There are a number of sections in which the game commands the players attention and appreciation for the work at hand. The first chapter of the game sets up the games atmosphere and themes, easing players for the experience they are about to embark upon. The second chapter ramps up the drama and tension within the story and feels like a run up to an explosive climax. The third chapter however brings a ending that doesn’t match the build up. Side plots feel like they have ended prematurely and feel a little rough handed. Some characters roles in the plot are dumped to ensure a quick route to the ending. It leaves a few question unanswered and detracts from the sense of scale the storytelling has managed to create. It’s not a terrible way to end the game, it is in fact a rather rough way to end it.   The Witcher 2 is a genuinely a fantastic role playing experience. The power the player has in their decisions is unmatched in modern day video games. The core combat has been slightly improved upon with the games transition to the Xbox 360, but its not without a few fiddly controls and camera angle issues. The visuals are top notch as too is the audio, its nothing short of a treat to open your eyes and ears to. Rarely does a game mange to engage a player in such a manner in which they feel like the story bends to their will and not the developers. Multiple endings add replay value, and the game time of around 20-35 hours of core content guarantee you’ll get your moneys worth. The Xbox 360 version of The Witcher 2 is a showcase in how to port a PC game to the consoles successfully. Everything works well, both in a gameplay sense and a technical sense. With a extra four hours of new content added to the 360 version there is even a reason for PC Witcher 2 veterans to experience the story on the consoles. The only true issue the Witcher 2 struggles from is the half baked climax, it simply does not match the rest of the game’s high quality of story telling and writing. Bold, beautiful, brutal, dramatic, glorious, engrossing and epic are just a few words to describe this role playing experience. The Witcher 2 is quite simply the best story driven role playing game on the Xbox 360. Minor faults are drowned out by supreme quality. The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings is a must play experience that will satisfy anyone (RPG fan or not) who can appreciate a well crafted role playing experience with epic story telling.      ...

DARK SOULS II – Review (Xbox 360)

DARK SOULS II – Review (Xbox 360)

I’ve probably redone this review numerous times already, and for some reason I keep feeling like my reviews for this game aren’t doing it justice. So, without further ado I’m throwing everything I can at this review and gonna pump it out quicker than my bowels do after an all you can eat Mexican dinner. Dark Souls II is the sequel to From Software’s Dark Souls which released in 2011. This new iteration in the franchise takes everything we loved about that amazingly, difficult game and did some tweaks to improve the overall performance and experience of the game, but also making it more accessible to gamers wanting to dip their toes into this series. In the game you control a cursed Undead trying to find a way to cure this curse that has been afflicted upon them. It isn’t linked to its predecessor other than taking place in the same world. The story takes place in the land of Drangleic, full of souls to help undead maintain their humanity while fighting the curse of the undead. The general story follows the cursed Undead, who is drawn to Drangleic by some sort of compelling force only to meet other Undead who have traveled to Drangleic for the same reasons. To not fall victim to the curse, which slowly erases the afflicted memories and soon they become the mindless undead. That’s pretty much the basis of the plot revolving around the game, and explains the quest that players will set out on without divulging too much into spoiler territory. For the people unfamiliar with the Souls series, it’s an action RPG that is known for the mass amounts of difficulty that gets shoved down your throat. Dark Souls is quite possibly the hardest games I’ve ever played, yet sadly I never got around to playing Demon’s Souls when I owned my PS3. That being said, it feels like Dark Souls II would be the game I’d recommend to someone eager to dip their toes into the franchise. DS2 feels a hell of a lot easier than the first game, and feels way more accessible for someone to pick up & play and get themselves prepared for the journey ahead. Does this mean Dark Souls II isn’t a good game? Hell no. By all means it’s a fantastic game and could quite honestly be better than most of the current-gen games we’re getting on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. There’s also a ton of content to see in the game, and you really wouldn’t have to worry about not getting your $60 worth. It’s quite a lengthy game, depending on how good you are at these games. I’m quite rubbish and I defeated the end boss nearing about the 65 hour mark. Yup, you read correctly. It took me 65 hours to finish the game and that’s without doing much side-content so there’s a lot of meat to the experience of Dark Souls II. I’ll get flak though because I enjoyed my experience with this game then I did with the original. I actually finished this game, where as I gave up on Dark Souls around Blighttown. Not only does this game feel more refined, but it plays better than the original and adds some new features that make the experience that more enjoyable. The main aspect being a better multiplayer system. I never could get it to work well in the original Dark Souls, and was surprised at how fluid it was and well it seemed to work in DS2. You can summon other players to help you take on World Bosses which is hell of a good time, and can make taking on bosses easier and helping you progress past areas that you’re stuck at. Which was a feature I used a couple of times to get past some of the more trickier bosses. You can also invade other player’s worlds and hunt them down and kill them with a sort of PvP aspect. It’s a cool aspect, and there’s even certain Covenants (guilds if you think about it) that are more geared towards PvP, and ones that are more geared towards co-operative play. So, let’s say you joined the Heirs Of The Sun covenant in the game. If you successfully protect the World Host for a set amount of time, or kill the World Boss with them (without the host dying of course) you’ll be awarded a Sunlight Medal that will allow you to progress in levels in the covenant and unlock spells, and weapons. Or maybe you’re more of a PvP kind of person and you joined the Brotherhood Of Blood covenant. For every certain amount of player kills you’ll rank up in the covenant and get the chance to snag some unique items that can only be obtained from ranking up in the Covenant. The cool thing about being invaded is that if you’re playing online it can pretty much happen at anytime, and there’s moments where it can be an absolute blast. Other times, it can be a great big pain in the arse. That’s what I like about Dark Souls. Even though you clear an area of enemies, there’s still that chance of someone invading you and stabbing you in the back. Even with all the awesome stuff surrounding Dark Souls II there’s still some things that are rubbing me the wrong way about the sequel. The main thing being the world is sort of bland and disconnected. With the original game you got a feeling that the world was connected, and a living, breathing thing (minus the Undead, hur hur) that was just an awesome place to explore. However, the world of Drangleic in Dark Souls II feels bland, boring, and ultimately disconnected. Coming from Dark Souls into Dark Souls II is a little disappointing on that end, but for someone who’s only played this game you really won’t notice that flaw. Luckily, it doesn’t take much away from the game and still makes it enjoyable. The only other gripe I have with the game is the variety in the enemies and bosses. In the first game we had a variety of creatures, and interesting, unique bosses (Gaping Dragon I’m looking at you). But with DS2 it feels like they took a step back in turns of creature design and instead gave us a dick-ton of humanoid enemies, and bosses. There are a lot of humanoid things to fight in Dark Souls II and it’s sort of a let-down. Most of the enemies are humanoid in some way with the occasional Attack Dog, Mushroom, etc. Then we have a huge chunk of the bosses being humanoids with a few exceptions such as the Song Demon, Gargoyles, Rat Vanguard, and a few others. Just like the world issue it’s a little disheartening but doesn’t stop the game from being a complete blast. If you’re curious about getting into the Souls series I would definitely recommend you use Dark Souls II as that gateway game. It’s easier than its predecessor and way more accessible. While it has a few hiccups in terms of level, and creature design it still soars above the first game in other areas. The multiplayer component of the game is one of my favorites in recent memory and this is really the only game that I’ve gone back to do a New Game+ play-through. So, what is the final verdict? Dark Souls II may be easier than the first game, but it’s still a complete blast and one of the best experiences I’ve had with my Xbox 360. It may have a few hiccups, but it never takes away from the enjoyment of the game. This game is most definitely worth the $60 price-tag, and may just be my Game Of The Year…so far.  ...

Fable Anniversary: An Experience Worth Re-Living

Fable Anniversary: An Experience Worth Re-Living

Most of my time has been invested into Fable Anniversary, so that is mainly the reason for my lack of reviews, articles, and what-not for the site. I apologize. I’ve never been one to buy into the whole “remake”/HD release of games, but Anniversary was one I couldn’t pass up, and I’m really glad I didn’t. It’s bringing back some great memories of romping through the original and giving me the chance to check out the Lost Chapters content that I never got to experience. You can say I’m glad to be back in pre-Fable II & III Albion. Surprisingly, it looks good and is definitely an improvement from the original visuals, and may be the best looking HD re-release yet. I didn’t go in expecting something on the levels of Crysis 3 at max settings, but it’s still a beautiful game and I like to think the entire thing as a whole holds up to today’s standards, albeit with the minor glitches and issues that were present in the original which have carried over. Do they hinder the experience? No, not really unless the game freezes, but I’ve only had that happen twice with the 20 or so hours that I’ve sunk into the game. Immediately a smile was plastered on my face as I experienced regions, quests, and activities from where I played through the original almost ten years ago. Now, there’s even more incentive for me to do everything in this game, which I never had in the original play-through even though I loved the game. The achievements are great, and don’t feel too stressful to obtain and could make for an easy 1000G across one playthrough (and yes there’s a work around if you don’t have a Smartglass capable device) but that doesn’t sacrifice fun in the process. Not only that, but this game is also giving me the chance to check out the Lost Chapters content that I never got around too. (Spoilers ahead if you’ve actually never played through the original Fable) That being said, I’m not up to that point yet (I don’t think) as I’ve just freed my mother from the prison. The only thing I know is that instead of fighting Jack once, we have to fight him while he’s in some sort of a Dragon form with this new content, so I’m excited for that. Nostalgia is typically known for screwing over gamers, and making them regret purchases (Duke Nukem Forever, Thief, etc) so I’m pretty happy that after dipping my paws into Anniversary that I’m coming away from the experience relatively unscathed, and extremely happy with the end product. Of course there is some minor issues with freezing, and the constant “Smartglass” advertisement every time you load up the game does get quite irritating, and I wish I could turn that off. That said, I only downloaded Smartglass to snag the achievement and then quickly deleted the app from my device. Stop trying to make it happen. That being said, I love this game and is currently the most time I’ve sunk into a game in recent memory, mainly due to work dominating my schedule. I can definitely recommend Fable fans pick this title up, but would also recommend that people who’ve never touched the game check it out as well. It’s $39.99, and is by far the better iteration in the Fable series of games. You take away more from the experience as a whole....

LocoCycle (360) – Review

LocoCycle (360) – Review

Sentient bikes are the future. We have to come to accept that in this new world. LocoCycle is a is a motorcycle racing game developed by Twisted Pixel Games, whom are known for games such as The Maw, and Splosion Man. The game stars I.R.I.S whom is a sentient motorcycle and she can perform 40 forms of combat, and speak well over 50 languages. She’s just that intelligent of a machine. However, she isn’t alone and is teamed up with quite the reluctant team-mate, Pablo. Right away we’re thrust into a live-action cut scene with some ridiculously, hammy acting (which I probably can be is intentional). There’s some familar faces such as Michael Jones, and Lindsey Tuggey of Roosterteeth fame as well as Tom Savini who is known for his make-up, and special effects work in George A Romero films. After this quite boring cut-scene plays, two guards are tasked with taking I.R.I.S and a rather gnarly looking Harley-esque bike named “Spike” to the garage for storage as a storm sets in. However, lightning strikes the bikes and we get a sort of Frankenstein’s monster effect to how the bikes are brought to life, and thus our journey begins. So, we take direct control of I.R.I.S and are racing down these highways trying to escape our captors. The driving feels good, and fluid at times but there will be instances where the camera angle will abruptly change and alter the whole feel of the game and it makes the experience quite disorienting, and takes a few seconds to re-adjust. This is where the combat steps in and we have to fight cars, and dudes on jetpacks. Not to mention the other bike, Spike will pop up every now and again to take you on. This is the part I’m really not too fond about in the game and actually pulls you out of the experience quite a bit, and actually renders the experience less enjoyable. You usually only attack with two buttons, or a third if you want to shoot your mounted weapons, but it’s still extremely bland, and is mostly just mashing buttons until the people you’re facing are finished off. It’s repetitive, and the combat just isn’t fun in the end. It feels too tedious, and more like a chore to take on these bad guys. In terms of visuals there’s nothing really exciting here, other than the bike designs are pretty neat. I played on the Xbox 360 version, so I’d imagine the visuals on the Xbox One and PC would be a little more worth taking a peek at. Most of the environments you drive through feel the same, and there really isn’t much variety (I’m about 2 hours or so into the game at the time of this review) and most of the assets of the game feel copy & pasted. So, the game just generally feels extremely tedious in terms of combat, and level-design so there isn’t much fresh perspective to take a look at when things happen. You’re essentially playing the same scenes over, and over with a plethora of quick-time events tossed into the mix, which just make the experience that less fun to play. That being said the game is cleverly written (aside from the hammy live-action) and the banter between Pablo, and IRIS is always great to listen too. However, $9.99 is a little steep to pay for a game you’ll finish in a few hours, and probably never revisit. Especially when the game just isn’t all that fun to play. It’s easy for achievements though if you’re one of those people. Twisted Pixel make great games, don’t get me wrong. I just feel like LocoCycle is a small, little road-bump on that list of games. Sadly, I wouldn’t recommend it until there’s a price-drop down the line, unless you wanna get some quick and easy gamerscore.  ...

Bound By Flame Overview Trailer & Screenshots Released

Bound By Flame Overview Trailer & Screenshots Released

If there’s one thing the Playstation 4 (and the Xbox one to be fair) are missing it’s more games. Thankfully the next few months will see the release of some big titles on both systems, but there’s also a interesting game by the name of Bound by Flame due for release this year.   Spiders studio are currently in the midst of crafting a ambitious fantasy RPG that places the player in control of a mercenary possessed by a demon in flames. This dark themed RPG features various playable classes, a crafting system and the ability to combine human and demon skills. The trailer below showcases some of the features on offer, as well as a look at the gameplay and environments present in the game. Bound By Flame is set for release in Q2 of 2014 on PC, Xbox 360, PS3 & PS4....

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z – Demo Impressions (Vita)

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z – Demo Impressions (Vita)

The latest Dragon Ball Z-based videogame is due to hit early next year. Battle of Z boasts everything you’d expect from a Dragon Ball Z game, with a few interesting additions to the core fighting experience to boot. For example, the game features a heavy focus on team work and the synergy between multiple characters, with skills and roles being assigned to various faces familiar to the Dragon Ball Z universe. It’s a mechanic that puts something of a fresh twist on what has become a slightly dry gameplay experience. Inside the game, each mission allows the player to choose which characters they want to take into battle. Mixing abilities and roles reduces the threat of any challenge presented. The demo does a decent job of showcasing how the different roles and skills in the game work together to create an effective mix. The likes of Krillin fill up the support role by feeding energy to other characters and reviving those who have fallen in combat. The rest of the game’s roles lean somewhat to the offensive side,  with some being purely damage-focused and others acting as ‘interrupters’ (essentially harassing enemies constantly). The character roles give the core combat a much needed sense of depth, even if it’s still slightly shallow. The combat is a mixture of spamming triangle in order to pull off simplistic combos until the enemy either flies away or admits defeat. Thankfully, the combat is broken up by one or two events that allow the other characters to chain attacks together that prompt combo chains. Also, there are various special moves that each character can perform, most of which come with a great sense of satisfaction. Special attacks are gained via a meter presented at the bottom left of the screen, which is filled by performing combos and receiving energy from support characters. After each battle has been completed. the opportunity to give energy to players around the world presents itself. Tapping the circle button allows the player to send as much energy as they wish in return for premium points. These points can be used to purchase various items that help boost stats or attack types. The points can also be used to buy cards which give the user certain perks. It’s not a hugely expansive element of the game (in the demo at least), but will no doubt play a larger role towards the later stages in the full game. Battle of Z‘s demo allows players to try a handful of story missions along with co-op and battle modes. The former is a little shallow in the demo and doesn’t do a whole lot to sell the feature, whereas the latter and story modes are much more enjoyable. The story missions act as a way to teach the player how to play and show off some of the core features and elements to the game. Battle Mode, on the other hand, is a straight-up brawl between multiple players that is simply crazy. The fast-paced nature of the combat results in some truly insane battles between players when online. The only real issue is that some connections die mid-game, but this could simply be an issue found only in the demo which will be rectified later on for the full release. In terms of production values, the demo is impressive. The visuals look fantastic on the Vita’s display, with the characters really popping off the screen. The bright colour pallet and crisp animations, accompanied by fantastic audio, allow the game to almost trick you into thinking you’re currently watching the TV show. Each character looks and sounds like you would expect. The battles even carry that distinct Dragon Ball Z feel and sound to them; it’s a truly impressive feat. On the whole, the demo for Battle of Z does a decent job of showing off what the game has to offer. The combat is simplistic but the fantastic controls allow each battle to feel both energetic and fun. The role system works well and gives each encounter a nice sense of variation. The most impressive element Battle of Z has at its disposal, however, lies in its production. As previously mentioned, this is the closest a game has come to looking and sounding like the show. The Vita’s features may not be used all that much but its power is on show with the gorgeous visuals Battle of Z showcases. The demo leaves the player wanting more–more battles, more spectacle, more game–and that’s exactly what a demo is supposed to achieve. The trailers claim that Battle of Z will allow players to experience what makes Dragon Ball Z awesome, and the demo does exactly that. Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z is due for release on January 24th 2014 on Xbox 360, PS3 and Playstation Vita. Demos for all three versions can be found on their respective online stores.    ...

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